President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger has claimed he is a “hostage” and that the entire Sahel region could fall to the Russians following the country’s military coup.
Writing for the Washington Post, Mr Bazoum said he had been “illegally imprisoned” after all political activity was suspended by Niger’s military junta.
He said that if successful, the coup would have “devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world”.
Referring to the Ukraine war, he said “the entire central Sahel region could fall to Russian influence via the Wagner Group”.
It comes as many pro-junta protesters waved Russian flags and broadcasters RFI and France 24 television were banned from broadcasting in the country.
The president finished by pleading to the US government and the “entire international community” to help the country “restore constitutional order”.
He said fighting for shared values is the “the only way to make sustainable progress against poverty and terrorism”.
The plea comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is “very much” in support of the West African regional body – known as ECOWAS – which has threatened to use force to regain democracy.
President Joe Biden also used Niger’s independence day to call for the release of Mr Bazoum and for democracy to be restored.
The European Union, United Nations, France and others have also condemned the uprising and refused to recognise self-declared head of state General Abdourahamane Tiani.
ECOWAS has set a deadline of Sunday 6 August for the junta to reinstate Mr Bazoum – when this expires, the body will decide what steps to take on the recommendations of its defence experts.